Seri Pahlawan Gagah perkasa
I was there. I was in the same operation in which Captain Hamid Awang earned his Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP) medal; the highest award for bravery in Malaysia.
It was never a dull moment serving 3 Bde under General Hassan. He was so persistent and relentless to engage the enemy. One ops after another, troops in and out into the bush almost without a breather. I had seen the general's patience, emotions and empathy, straight faced and concerned each time the troops rolled out of the camp. His quietness and professionalism was legendary. General Hassan.
It was almost immediately after Ops Umpan in Lundu. We had to pursue on as to why the enemy had not taken our bait. The SB and MIO came back with another A1 intrep. A big one. The enemy were to have a big meeting in the Lundu/ Biawak forest reserve. Several independant groups totaling 30 plus CTs were getting together at a known ex-enemy camp.
3 Bde swung into action. 2 RAMD was to deploy a company immediately into selected and prepared ambush positions. Captain Hamid commanded the company. Another infantary battalion from 7 mile camp Kuching was placed on immediate stand by.
As usual we had an Alloutte tasked on a daily basis for the Bde comd and/or me. I was the Bde Comd's sidekick. I with my PRC 77 comms on my back; switching between Bde Comd Net and my Fire Orders Net. No need for signallers to be at hand. All comms were voice to voice, no messages. That was how it was with General Hassan. I salute him.
The company deployed into three ambush positions. Captain Hamid and his Company HQ group of 6 personnel, was in the rear of one of his platoons. I was to be on immediate standby to be airborne to provide arty support on contact. Thats it, we waited for the action. Which platoon will strike gold?
A couple of times I was tasked to provide confidence to the enemy that we were operating in a completely different sector, miles away. I would be airborne in low flights to be seen/ heard by the enemy. Another simple ruse. Keep the enemy happy that we were in the wrong area.
Four days, still no contact. Captain Hamid got restless and decided to move his group on their own to recce for another ambush site. It was late into the evening when Captain Hamid chanced into a group of enemy. He was not spotted and no firefight ensued.
Captain Hamid did not give contact report until the actual firefight was over. I was still airborne when I heard the contact report. Thats it. Contact and no further details. I know where the ambush positions were but not where the fire fight was. There was no call for arty support as it was supposed to. I flew into the area franticly calling Captain Hamid for contact info. No response. The platoons in the ambush positions were just as perplexed. I was still in the air when Captain Hamid called for medevac. I returned to Lundu, got off the allouette for the MO to get on board for the medevac.
Captain Hamid did not report his contact with the enemy to anyone. He did not even alert his platoons of his action. He decided to act alone with his small HQ group. He and his group had courageously crept up the enemy group. Captain Hamid achieved surprise and open up on the enemy which was a much bigger group than his asault group. His medical personnel and signaller were giving covering fire when he asaulted into the enemy group. He was soon in hand to hand battle with the enemy. He had fired his M79 grenade launcher in very close range to the enemy. The grenade was not effective as it had a safety minimum range, and it exploded a distance away. Captain Hamid had expanded all his ammo and had to use his M79 grenade launcher ala David Crockett. He was also wrestling with an enemy, bayonet in hand ala Tarzan. What a fight, but this was no movie. We had casualties and lost the medical personnel KIA. Captain Hamid had several enemies killed by his HQ group. Follow up operations later were also quite successful in getting some body counts.
Did Captain Hamid do right? Was he a hero or was he insubordination by not reporting his contact with the enemy? WHO IN HIS RIGHT SENSE WOULD CHARGE INTO AN ENEMY CAMP LARGER THAN HIS ASAULT GROUP? The Bde comd and his CO did not know what to do with him. The board of inquiry cleared Captain Hamid of his action. Courage and initiative was imperative on his part and acknowledged, above all other actions.
Captain Hamid earned his SP medal. I salute Captain Hamid. And I was there.